I started quilting for the same reason as many ladies: for their children. I wanted my kids to have something handmade by me. How I discovered quilting is quite a different story. I was nursing my first child ten years ago in the wee hours and was running out of things to watch on late night television. I felt like I had watched everything that interested me on Netflix (when they first started streaming) and began surfing YouTube. Missouri Star Quilt Company tutorials were suggested and I watched one, then two and eventually hours more.
Jenny Doan was the teacher and I was the student. I watched video after video admiring her quilts. It was entertaining and informative. I enjoyed watching the videos but decided quilting was not for me. I had already been sewing baby bibs, swaddling blankets and little books for my two children. Yet, I had totally dismissed the idea of quilting. How could people cut up cloth and sew it together again? I was simply not patient enough, nor precise enough. But I continued to watch the videos and never knew quilt shops existed.
Years later my babies no longer needed bibs and receiving blankets. They were toddlers and growing quickly. I decided that I wanted to try quilting because I really enjoyed sewing for them. I had been watching two years of Missouri Star Quilt Company videos and yet I was still intimidated. So I decided to go to Joann fabrics and see what I came up with. I saw pre-quilted fabric sold by the yard. I liked the idea of just appliqueing things on a finished “quilt”. I made two applique toddler quilts , then two more and they loved them. I loved how I was able to make the quilts to fit their personalities, picking the fabrics and the applique shapes. I was falling more in love with the idea of making quilts for my children. But this was about as close to real quilting as I would get or so I told myself.
I loved adding the fun trim for my little girl. She was about 11 months or 18 months (wish I had labeled things) when I made this. I actually went to a crafting night with some really great ladies in my moms group I belonged to. One just sewed pillow cases and random crafts, two were “real” quilters and then there I was-in between both worlds.
My oldest son has been into science and space ever since he was 2 or 3 years old. I decided to find the most fun space fabric and cut it out to be appliqued. Now I know what I was doing was called fussy cutting. I picked out the rockets and ships he loved most and machine appliqued them to a backing. I actually quilted this myself using free motion. I wanted the quilting to look like flames so I used orange thread.
Later on, I made another applique quilt for my little girl who was getting into space like her older brother. Finding space themed girly fabric was challenging so I came up with tracing an astronaut I printed from online. I machine appliqued it and I stitched details into the astronaut. I cut out shapes and made a rocket which I machine appliqued also. I was definitely getting more into sewing . My little toddler gal loved this quilt too and was so happy to have girl space stuff.
In fact, they loved their applique quilts so much, I decided to make them Christmas quilts. I had loved the ones I saw in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog but on a graduate students income (my husband was still in grad school), we could not afford anything like it. So I set about pricing out two toddler size quilts with fabric from Joann Fabrics. I waited for a sale with extra coupons and was able to make two quilts for a reasonable price. I still didn’t think I was a real quilter so I decided to make up an easy pattern-something I could not mess up.
We moved cross country to Ohio just four months after my third child was born. I didn’t have time to applique a toddler quilt and I wanted something softer since the “pre-quilted” fabric didnt drape nicely until many washes. I again went to Joann fabrics and decided to see what I came up with. I found three fabrics and a minky that I liked. I loved the idea of the minky as a backing and I ended up piecing the three large pieces into a strip quilt. I used no batting and sewed it wrong sides together then turned it right side out and top stitched all around the edges and along the strips. I learned a year ago that I made some variation of a whole cloth quilt.
18 months later, I was already six months pregnant with my fourth child and my kids requested a Halloween quilt. I decided that I was really going to try out real quilting now. I found a free pattern online via Pinterest and went at it. In hindsight, I did not choose an easy quilt. It had lots of 2.5″ strips sewn together, cut into triangles, and sewn into hexagons to look like spider webs. How my children LOVED those quilts. I was (and still am) a perfectionist. I was disappointed I lost some points, had bulky seams and it was not perfect. I took it in to a local long armer at a quilt shop and she offered me tips. But rather than learn from this experience, I saw it as confirmation that I would never be a really good quilter. Plus, I was about to have FOUR children ages 6 and under!! So I bound the quilts and gave all my fabric away putting my machine in the closet. But it was still just the beginning of my quilting story…
Kelly O. says
I think Jenny Doan has changed the lives of many a quilter! You keep churning out quilts the way you have been and you will be an expert in no time!
Thanks very much Kelly! I appreciate your following and encouragement. I really do!
I am enjoying your quilting journey story :-). Everybody has to start somewhere, and, to me, that’s the most interesting part of a quilter! (One of the reasons I enjoy Quilt Folk magazine so much)
Looking forward to your next installment and now I understand why you call yourself Quilting for 4!
Thank you so much! I have definitely had to learn patience and practice. I have not read Quilt Folk before-I am going to look into it. Thanks!
I’m loving your story! I love To hear how people started quilting! And of course seeing your quilts is so special!
Shelley Mosmen says
Thanks for your story it shows how you started quilting. Can’t wait for part 2. I have a similar story, I began sewing clothes before quilting. My first quilt was a patriotic Log Cabin. I have been sewing for 30 years and quilting for about 28. I feel intimidated about making a “quilt pattern” of my own. Please help with how you come up with a pattern?
Hi! Part 2 has been published already. This was from a while back. As for coming up with patterns-I sometimes just make a block and then mock up how a quilt will look with all of those. Or I see shapes and think that would make a great pattern. I use adobe Illustrator though there are programs too like EQ9 many quilters use. The math part is defnitely the most time intensive but after quilting for a while, I began to see the math and then eventually how I to calculate what I need.
I am a perfectionist also. Having seen garments since 8th grade when a friend asked if I wanted to take a quilting class I said, “sure, why not”. It was the perfect pairing- fabric and perfectionism. I was hooked. And what a delightful journey it has been! Finally, no more criticism for be a perfectionist and I enjoy it al!
Isn’t it fun to let the creativity flow!